Lovers of God or Other?
“Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:14-15
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5
As I read through these passages, I am momentarily minded to posture myself in a position of righteous indignation against this present world’s disdain for anything that pertains to Godliness and truth. But as I think about it, I realize it’s just a short step from there to judgmentalism, unrighteous anger, criticism, backbiting, hating their works so much that I am tempted to hate them as much as I hate what they say and do against God and against His people. My passion is tempted to run toward doing unto them what they have done unto me and those I love.
But the voice of God’s love constrains me to turn the accusing finger toward myself first, to examine my own heart, before I set myself in the seat of judge, jury, and executioner of them. I cannot measure up to any of those positions because they belong to Jesus alone.
I can judge my own behavior, my actions, and my words. I can also judge another person’s actions and words, but I cannot judge their heart. Therefore, I cannot, without Godly discernment, know the intent of their heart to condemn them or judge them worthy of punishment.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Jesus called out the Pharisees for their love of money rather than their love of God, His Word and His people. Their position as spiritual leaders of the people made their derision of Him all the more grievous to God the Father.
Had they and the people not been praying for their Messiah for centuries, generation after generation, from the days of Noah? Why then, did they reject Him as false, as a pretender, as an offense against their traditions and a misrepresentative of their God? Because the god they were serving was not Him. It was money, this world’s goods, and themselves.
Therein was the root of the problem. Their god was not God at all. Jesus was the very antithesis of the god they had fashioned in their own minds, being deceived by the devil to serve him as their father.
“Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.” John 8:43-45
The Scriptures which they declared and claimed to regard so highly and to so ardently protect and defend, spoke specifically of Jesus, but their god of money, power, position, pride, and control of the people for selfish gain, blinded them from realizing that the very one they so desperately sought, the One Who had been promised to them, had come to them and they did not know Him, but rejected Him and killed Him.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ ” Luke 13:34-35
The message to us as the people of God today is to be aware that the world doesn’t know our God, and therefore, they do not value, honor, nor follow Him. But we are here on earth as strangers and foreigners, as His Ambassadors to show Him to them by our lives, by our words and our prayers, by the manner of our living, in acts of kindness and caring for them, in compassion and mercy, in forgiveness and in the declaration of the uncompromised, unalloyed truth of His Word to them when they need it, even, and especially, when they don’t deserve it.
We who have seen and known the Messiah as our Lord and Savior, who confess and trust in Jesus for life, are called to so live before the world that they see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven.
We will do this not by the might of men, not by the power of human resources and conventional weapons of warfare, but by God’s Spirit, working in and through us by faith, motivated by love.
Yes, we are in a war for the souls of men, women, and children. We hear of places where some parents are knowingly and others unknowingly submitting their children to public and private school indoctrination by ungodly teachers and tutors who have never known God, nor do they seek to know Him. Moreover, they are passionately committed to eradicating any mention or reference of God and particularly Jesus Christ from anywhere and everywhere it may be found in public and private life. And they are advancing their agenda one child at a time, one family at a time, one neighborhood, one community, one city, one state, one country at a time.
What the devil is counting on is keeping the strife and division among us alive and spreading. Our enemy is eagerly stirring up strife by false arguments, lies, false accusations, repeatedly spoken, by anger, backbiting, criticism, malice for malice, violence for violence, evil for evil. The more of it he can foster the more territory he can claim, the more pervasively his venom spreads.
What he has not considered is the power of the Love of God.
But, this is our secret weapon to push back against the darkness and the destruction of sin. Love cannot be defeated because love never fails.
The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. And being ready to revenge all disobedience when our obedience is fulfilled. [2 Corinthians 10:4-5]
We can and we must tap into the source of our power and draw on His provisions to counter the advance of evil in all its forms. We have a responsibility to teach our children to know and to love God. And we have a commission from Jesus, Himself to go into all the world and to preach the Gospel to every creature.
The question is, who do we love?
We know God loves us. He gave His life to prove His Love for us.
But who or what do we love? Who or what do we love so much that He or it informs our actions and our words? Who has the final authority over our lives and for whose love are we laying down our lives. For Whom are we taking up our cross and following daily?
That one is determining the course and destiny of our lives. Our freedom, our health, our safety and wellbeing, our prosperity and success in life, our relationships, our present and our future hope and fulfillment, our lives and the lives of our loved ones are in that one’s hands.
If Jesus is Lord of our lives, then our lives and all these things in our lives are hid with Him in God. Faith is empty without works and powerless without love. In Christ we are neither empty nor powerless, but we have all things to enjoy, and all power given to Him has been committed/declared to us as we go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. And this we will do.
Preach the Gospel and when necessary, use words.